Monday, November 30, 2009

From the Root of Jesse

Coupon Flyers, Christmas lights, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It's easy to lose the truth of Christmas in the frantic pace of December. The truth is that God came to earth.

Did you get that? God, who opens his mouth and breathes out galaxies, became a helpless embryo, the child of an unwed teenage mother. But don't worry. It was all part of his plan.

In our family, we find it helpful to take some time each day to remember the enormity and purpose of God's plan. We do this by putting up a Jesse Tree. In our house, it's a small pine tree, but you could use a branch or a paper tree. Each day, we tell a story of God's plan, leading up to his incarnation, his taking on human flesh. Most Jesse Tree sites start 28 before Christmas in order to celebrate for 4 full weeks before the big celebration. I find it works better for our family to start on December 1, so that's what we're going to do.

Walk with me through the Bible this month. I'll post a blog every day with the following day's thoughts.

December 1 - The Jesse Tree

God made a promise to his people that they would not always have to live in fear and bondage. He promised a deliverer, someone who would bring peace to the earth, who would save through the power of the Spirit of God. He would come from the line of Jesse, the father of David. The people didn't know when this Savior would come, but they looked forward to him delivering them from generations of suffering. They watched the signs, they prayed for the Messiah to come quickly, and they kept their eyes on the family line of Jesse.

Today's symbol - the tree

Today's verse - Isaiah 11:1-7

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord--and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Fight Lost

My husband's uncle died last night at the way too young age of 54 after a short, intense battle with cancer. He was a voice of sanity in a loud, crazy family, a steady man who loved his girls and loved his football. Say a prayer for his family tonight, would you?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cancer Stinks

Cancer claimed the life of my husband's aunt this month. It's ravaging the body of his uncle right now. And it has returned to the body of a dear family friend.

A sign of the fall?

A sign of the times?

A reminder of the fragility of life?

Maybe. I don't know. But I know cancer stinks. An unseen enemy fighting the body from within.

It seems the invisible foe is the hardest to fight. It's true with cancer, but it's true with other things too - dissention, discontent, discord - When the body is attacked and weakened by its own members, it cannot thrive.

The first big lawsuit over rights for Christian music included the song "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love." Ironic, huh? Like cancer in the body of Christ, bent on destroying itself from within. Only in this case, we already know the cure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reports of My Birth Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

I got a bill today. It seems I had a c-section in September. Funny, I don't remember anything about it and I haven't seen any extra babies laying around anywhere.

When I told my youngest I'd been billed for having a baby, she said, "Mom, that was so 7 years ago."

Sunday, November 15, 2009


When we moved back to America, we made two resolutions as a family.

1) We promised ourselves we wouldn't get involved in too many activities, especially at night.

2) We determined not to let discussions of how the church should or should not be, or how Christians should or should not act, overshadow talking about Jesus.

Time to assess our success or failure...

1) It's hard to live in America with kids and not get involved in some evening activities. All in all, though, we're home about as many nights as we're out. Now I need to re-resolve to make sure our time at home is used wisely, but I can't make that resolution until this round of the Amazing Race and Survivor are over.

2) This is a toughie. I spend a lot of my energy fretting about how to change situations and people I have no control over. I let myself fall into less challenging conversations with people I know will mostly agree with me. It's time to refocus my words on important topics. It's time to hand over the stuff I can't change and let God work his wonders without my help.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I have a thing about time warps, like the one we have to walk through to get from house to car that makes us exactly 3 minutes behind schedule everywhere we go.

Today's time warp comes from my computer's internal clock. It's the warp that occurs between 8:36 and 8:37. In the nano second it takes for the clock to switch over, my whole body goes through a sort of time travel of its own.

8:36 is my time, early morning quiet time after the husband is gone to work and before the kids are my responsibility.

8:36 is the same as 8:00 and 8:30.

8:37, though, is almost 9 o'clock. Time to kick things into gear. Time to make sure everyone's dressed and ready to start read aloud time in a few minutes.

Like the jarring feeling you get from a car with bad transmission when it shifts from 1st to 2nd, that's what 8:37 feels like to me.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mug Shots

I'm off to the Post Office this morning to mail off our passport applications. Don't you know we'd plan our Africa trip to coincide not only with the month our passports expire, but with the expiration of our yellow fever shots, too.

Ten years since our last passport photos. It's scary how much we've changed in the last ten years. The hubby, of course, looks better than ever. He's more chiseled, less awkward. He's lost the mustache and the monstrous glasses and has trimmed his hair back to a manageable length.

I, on the other hand, am not improving. I've got the baggy eye thing going on, I've added glasses, and I've got the worse hairstyle of my life. And let's not even talk about the weight difference.

I hate getting my picture taken. Hate. It. But I've reached a point where I realize I'm not going to look any better in next year's picture or the year's after that. This is probably the best I'm ever going to look. Might as well record it now.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Close Your Eyes

I didn't bring my card adapter, so you'll have to spend a moment with me with your eyes closed (though I supposed that will put a cramp in your ability to read this post).

The weather is perfect, about 60 with a slight breeze blowing the scents of salt and fish off the ocean. A steady drone of low waves washes up against the sand and seagulls call out announcements about the latest morsel they've spotted.

A group of ladies gathers on the balcony, laughing over one funny memory or another. From the kitchen, friendly conversation spills out over flour tortillas and pulled pork, infusing our lunch with the kind of comradery that makes food taste its best.

You can open your eyes now. Wish you were here.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Africa Plans Update

So far, we've had about $1250 sent to us to help toward our trip to Africa in February. That's about enough for one person to go and stay. I hope it's me.

Fund raising is such a humbling/humiliating process. Truth be told, it's one of the things that keeps us in the states. It's hard to ask people to give money so you can do what you love to do. There's a piece of me that thinks it would be easier to make requests if we promised to be miserable when we got there.

It's a funny thing, this wanderlust that is part of my every cell. I yearn for far-off places. I love to talk to people who are not like me, to listen to what makes them tick, to puzzle out why God placed them in this time and place like he said in Acts 17. I have a lot of friends who are perfectly content living in the same town they grew up in, going to the same grocery stores, visiting the same attractions. I think they're lucky.

I'm the one (I'm blaming my dad for this) who wants to hike every trail in the book at least once before we hike the same trail twice. I'm the one who's willing to taste anything once, the one who loves that moment when the chaos of a foreign tongue resolves itself into meaningful words in my ears.

I'm kidding about wanting to stay in Africa, at least for now. I know our family is where it needs to be for the next few years, but my heart aches for a continent that is both the darkest and brightest place I've ever been.